How to Prepare For a Tattoo Appointment

How to Prepare For a Tattoo Appointment

Once you’ve chosen your tattoo artist and booked an appointment, there are steps you should take to be prepared for the big day that will help make your tattoo appointment smoother and make the healing process better. Preparing your body for a tattoo is an often overlooked, but very important step, especially for those looking to get large tattoos. The following tips will help you be better prepared for your appointment.

Drink Plenty of Fluids

It’s important to make sure you are hydrated for your tattoo appointment, as this not only helps your body with the healing process afterward, but also helps during the tattoo. Clients often sweat while being tattooed and this can quickly lead to dehydration, making the tattoo more painful and difficult.

Get Lots of Rest

Sleep is incredibly important for the human brain and body. Tattooing is draining both physically and mentally, and having plenty of rest before an appointment is crucial. 

Eat a Nutritious Meal Before the Appointment

Food is fuel for your body, so the way you eat before getting tattooed will determine how well you are able to handle the tattoo. The biggest reason eating a good meal before your appointment is so important is that it helps regulate blood sugar levels. If your blood sugar drops too low during the tattoo appointment you run the risk of serious complications such as passing out, seizures, etc. To help avoid this, stay away from food or drinks with excessive sugar. Instead, eat a meal that is high in protein, fat, and complex carbohydrates.

Bring Snacks, Drinks, and Water

Tattoo appointments often take many hours, so you should always pack a few snacks and drinks with you to keep your blood sugar stable and your body full of energy. Pack healthy snacks full of protein and complex carbohydrates, such as nuts, granola bars, protein bars, beef jerky, trail mix, etc. Also bring a drink that provides electrolytes such as Liquid IV, Gatorade, Pedialyte, etc. Keep in mind these drinks are often high in sugar and should be sipped slowly throughout the appointment to avoid blood sugar spikes. Finally, bring plenty of water to stay hydrated. Many shops will have some drink and snack supplies on hand in case you forget to bring your own.

Wear Appropriate Clothing

Comfort is king when it comes to getting tattooed! Consider where you are getting tattooed and what clothing will be the most practical for that spot. If you’re getting tattooed on your leg, wear shorts. If you’re getting tattooed on your back, wear a zip up sweater or button up shirt that can be put on backwards. Be sure to also keep in mind that it is possible (and pretty likely!) that ink will get on your clothes and stain them, so wear something you don’t care too much about. If you have questions about what to wear to your appointment, consult with your artist.

Take a Shower Before the Appointment

Getting tattooed means you’re going to have someone in close quarters to your body, so you should always shower before an appointment. Not only does this avoid body odor, but will make the tattoo more hygienic. Do not use any perfume or cologne as this could cause migraines or other issues for an artist that’s sensitive to smell. You can shave the area you’ll be getting tattooed, but if you aren’t comfortable shaving, don’t! Let your artist shave for you. Don’t feel embarrassed about body hair - tattoo artists shave people all the time! Some artists prefer that you let them shave for you to avoid any accidental cuts. If you cut yourself while shaving, reach out to your artist before the appointment. The appointment may need to be rescheduled.

Stock Up On Soap and Lotion

You may be asked to wash your tattoo when you get home from your appointment, so it’s not a bad idea to stock up on soap and lotion beforehand. Most artists recommend using a gentle antibacterial soap like Dial Gold. Not only does this clean off the tattoo, but keeps bacteria levels low and helps prevent bacterial infections. Always read soap labels and ensure that it says it is antibacterial, you may be surprised to learn that many soaps are not! In addition, never use soaps that have any harsh chemicals or perfumes as this can irritate the skin and cause the tattoo to heal poorly. After washing the tattoo with soap and water as instructed by your artist, always pat (don’t rub) the tattoo dry with a clean towel or let it air dry. Most artists will then recommend applying a thin layer of unscented lotion to the tattoo. Commonly recommended lotion brands include Curel, Aveeno, Cetaphil, or CeraVe unscented lotions. Some artists may provide or recommend using A&D ointment instead of lotion. We do not recommend A&D ointment for tattoos as it holds in too much moisture on the skin and doesn’t allow the skin to breathe. However, you should always consult with your artist about healing techniques or questions.

Do a Bandage Skin Test

If you are going into the tattoo shop for an in-person consultation before the actual appointment, it may be a good idea to ask your artist if they will be using “DermShield” or “Second Skin.” These bandages can help make the tattoo healing process easier, but can cause irritation of the skin in some clients. If your artist does use or offer this product, ask for a small patch to be applied onto your skin on a different area than where you are planning to get tattooed. Leave the patch on for a day and watch for any skin reactions or irritation. If irritation occurs, you can discuss alternative bandage or other healing options with your artist. Let your artist know if you have an allergy to adhesives before using these products.

Consult Your Doctor

If you have any medical conditions or are taking medications that could interfere with the tattooing process, you should always consult your doctor before getting a tattoo. Your tattoo artist should also ask for you to disclose certain medical conditions before beginning the tattoo, such as Diabetes, psoriasis, eczema, pregnancy, hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, etc. as well as medications you may be taking like blood pressure medications, blood thinners, antibiotics, etc. Also be sure to let your tattoo artist know if you are immune compromised. If you’ve had a recent surgery or have a surgery scheduled within four weeks of your tattoo, you should consult your doctor before getting tattooed.

Take Out Some Cash

Most tattoo artists prefer cash, although some do accept other forms of payment such as Venmo. Some shops and artists ONLY accept cash, so be sure to ask your artist their preferred method of payment before the appointment so you can come to your appointment prepared. Not sure how much to bring? Ask your artist their hourly rate or an estimated cost for the piece and bring a bit extra - quotes are not always exact estimates and you may wish to leave a tip! 


If you have any questions regarding the tattoo process it’s always a good idea to ask your artist. Consultations are not only to establish a design, but also to establish expectations between both the tattoo artist and client. Taking the steps to be well-prepared for your appointment will help ensure a smooth process and better healing. Schedule an appointment today with one of our talented tattoo artists who specialize in a variety of styles including neotraditional, American traditional, illustrative, black and grey, realism, blackwork, and more. 

Back to blog